What Happens in Mexico Doesn’t Stay in Mexico in Hulu Comedy ‘Vacation Friends’
A couple’s booze-fueled shenanigans during a Mexican getaway spills into their real life in “Vacation Friends,” another comedy that proves how some of the most outwardly trashy people have the biggest hearts, while those caught up with being respectable can be the worst. John Cena and Lil Rel Howery play well off of each other, both doing what they do best here as the lovable party guy and the easily stressed straight man, respectively. The film also showcases two lesser-known but equally talented actresses, Meredith Hagner and Yvonne Orji, who play the partners of Cena Howery. The foursome play two couples, free-spirited party animals Ron (Cena) and Kyle (Hagner), whose paths cross in Mexico with a more conservative twosome, Marcus (Howery) and Emily (Orji), and a memorable week that changes the lives of all four of them ensues.
Marcus, the workaholic owner of a construction company, has the perfect proposal planned for Emily, his smart and beautiful girlfriend, but once they arrive in Mexico, they discover that the five-star hotel suite where he had everything set up is wrecked, thanks to the guests in the presidential suite above them who left their jacuzzi on. Understandably frustrated but not defeated, he proposes in the hotel lobby, which touches Ron and Kyla, who happen to be the occupants of the presidential suite, which they spent their last penny on, because that’s how they roll. They invite them to stay with them (the rest of the hotel is booked), and while there is some hesitation, especially on Marcus’s end, they agree, and after a memorable afternoon on a boat, he and Emily are seduced into Ron and Kyla’s freewheeling ways, which isn’t too hard when one is on a gorgeous resort where drinks are always flowing and the sun is always shining. The week culminates in an intimate, last-minute wedding for Marcus and Emily, but the next morning, after the wildest night yet, reality sets in, and the pair jump on a plane home with no plans to see Ron and Kyla again.
Fast forward to seven months later, and Marcus and Emily are getting ready for their official wedding in Atlanta, which is being hosted by Emily’s traditional parents, Harold (Robert Wisdom) and Suzanne (Lynn Whitfield). There’s a cloud over what should be a joyous wedding weekend, as stuffy Harold doesn’t think Marcus is good enough for his daughter. Him and Suzanne clash with Marcus’s more working-class parents, Larry (Chuck Cooper) and Nancy (Anna Maria Horsford). Also adding tension is the fact that Marcus was forced into having Emily’s obnoxious brother, Gabe (Andrew Bachelor), as his best friend, as Harold wouldn’t allow him to invite any of his own friends.
Enter Ron and Kyla, who decide to crash the wedding after they learn about it online. Marcus and Emily are initially horrified, but, surprise, surprise, the couple end up being a hit, and in a funny twist, Harold ends up liking Ron more than he does Marcus when he learns of the former’s military service. Hilarity ensues as Ron continues to push Marcus out of his comfort zone, sometimes too far, but he also helps him “man up” when it comes to proving himself to Harold and Gabe. There are also some fun moments with the ladies, but they unfortunately fade to the background somewhat after the first act in Mexico. However, Kyla shows up to Atlanta heavily pregnant, which makes Marcus nervous due to some lingering questions he has about that last night in Mexico but is too afraid to ask.
“Vacation Friends” was penned by director Clay Tarver and Tom and Tim Mullen, along with actor John Francis Daley and his creative partner Jonathan Goldstein, the team behind “Horrible Bosses.” While this film doesn’t reach the comedic heights of that one, it is a fun romp that stresses, without being hokey, the importance of befriending people outside of our usual circles who challenge us. While the viewer can see some of the gags coming, Tarver and his co-writers don’t resort to toilet humor to get laughs or insult the viewer’s intelligence.
“Vacation Friends” begins streaming Aug. 27 on Hulu.